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U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer tells lawmakers China will meet its Phase 1 ag commitments by the end of 2020.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer tells lawmakers China will meet its Phase 1 ag commitments by the end of 2020.

Trade leaders, President send mixed messages over U.S.-China Phase 1 trade deal

News Staff - June 23, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC – Is it a trade deal or a case of whiplash?

The question is a fair one as the much-touted U.S. – China Phase 1 trade deal gets bounced back and forth between individuals and agencies in the Trump administration.

Appearing before the House Ways and Means Committee on June 18, U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer provided a far more upbeat assessment of the deal than the president had in recent weeks.

Trump repeatedly has expressed irritation with China, saying last month he had “lost a little flavor” for the trade deal and threatening to “cut off the whole relationship.” There have been almost daily clashes between the two nations over the coronavirus pandemic, China’s crackdown on Hong Kong’s autonomy, and China’s falling behind on purchases of U.S. goods.

But in comments to the committee, Lighthizer said, “Every indication is that in spite of this Covid-19, they are going to do what they say. “We have an excellent agreement.”

Lighthizer told lawmakers there is some backloading with ag sales, especially soybeans. “So, our objective is to get as much of all the other commodities as possible and realize at the end of the year there will be a lot of soybean sales.”

He says his office is monitoring the data and the indicators they have now say China will meet its phase-one ag commitments by the end of this year.

Then this week on Monday, June 22, White House Trade Advisor Peter Navarro said “it’s over” when asked about the U.S. – China trade deal on Fox News.  The comment caused volatility in the global markets. Navarro released a statement later saying his words were taken out of context. He said he wasn’t talking about the trade deal but was talking about the lack of trust in China.

Hours after Navarro’s comments, President Trump took to Twitter, saying the U.S.-China trade deal is “fully intact.”  Despite recent tensions between the two countries, Trump said he hopes China will continue to meet the terms of the Phase 1 agreement.

Earlier U.S.-China trade negotiations lasted more than two years, heaped tariffs on $370 billion of Chinese products, whipsawed financial markets and dented global growth well before the coronavirus outbreak triggered a worldwide recession.

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